My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

Guest post by vertigo912
Ashley & Ryan01

Besides the obvious “ah-ha!” moment of “OMG I'm SO glad I found Offbeat Bride,” I wanted to share the top-five realizations I've had while planning this thing. These tidbits may not be for everyone, but if my best friend was getting married, this is what I'd tell her:

1. Get officially married before the big day

We got hitched in our living room by our friend who got ordained online. It was for insurance purposes; I wanted it to be unemotional, so we could save our feelings for the “real” day. But it was intimate and beautiful. We cried. And NO ONE knows except me, hubby, officiant, and now you guys. 😉 For all intents and purposes, our ceremony will still be our wedding — but I'll be able to walk down the aisle a little easier knowing that the sexy guy at the end of the aisle is already my secret husband.

2. Go with a short engagement

Having dealt with (only) six months of the planning stress, I can't imagine having ANOTHER six months or more of sleepless nights, fretting over Save the Dates, invites, colors, photos, details, etc. Sure, we've worked with a truncated timeline, but it means we have to work efficiently. Who doesn't work better with a little fire beneath them?

3. Consider just one attendant, or none at all

Instead, reach out to friends to fill special roles. We didn't want to play “favorites” with friends. In the end, we each chose one long-term friend from highschool to stand with us. Instead of asking my girlfriends to spend money on a bridesmaid dress, I asked them if their gift could simply be to showcase their talents. From baking the wedding cake and decorating the park bridge, to arranging our flowers and DJ-ing our tunes, our friends will make our day special not by standing with us in awkward group photos but by highlighting their awesome talents.

4. Create to-do lists on Google docs

For awhile, I was keeping a running list of to-do items as a draft message in my email. My honey suggested we create a Google doc out of it, and voila! We share just one list with eachother (instead of me emailing myself different drafts). We add tasks to our living document as we think of them. You can have the Google doc open at the same time, editing things as needed. And there's that ever-satisfying “strikethrough” text feature to cross off finished items. Almost as good as a hand-written list.

5. Sometimes you just need to step back and not give a shit

A few weeks into the process, when we were getting overwhelmed, we took a night away at a cheap farmhouse bed and breakfast. Left our laptops at home, turned off our cell phones, and stared into eachother's eyes to the tune of the thunderstorm. Its easy to get swept up in the bustle of planning. But this unplugged getaway helped us remember why we were wasting time picking out old table cloths to cut into napkins or scouring craigslist for reusable wares. In short: be the honeybadger. Honeybadger don't give a shit. (Click on it. You won't regret it.)

What are your own “ah-ha!” moments?

Comments on My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

  1. Ah! The honey badger… I will have to save that for when my son is a little older. He’s got a thing for badgers.

    My “aha” moment was when I realized how swept up I’d gotten in the STUFF of my wedding. The morning of the wedding, several things were missing and I realized how attached I’d been to the idea of these things being there even though they were completely non-essential. Sure, they would have been nice. But they didn’t matter, and the stuff that was at our wedding really hasn’t panned out to be those lasting keepsakes I want to display or anything like that. It’s just more crap.

    Another one is: letting attendants pick their clothing can be worse than picking it yourself. Instead of being happy and picking something they liked, everyone was totally worried about what they were wearing and up until the week of the wedding I was still getting calls and emails from people checking if I liked this or that dress. I wish I’d just picked something and been done with it, say, the first month of planning.

    • About the bridesmaids dresses, my sister just had this same experience from the other side. She was maid of honor and the bride told all the bridesmaids to wear whatever they wanted as long as it was short and blush pink. My sister and was super stressed about finding the right dress in just the right shade of blush pink, the right shoes, the right jewelry, etc. She was constantly texting the bride and could never make a decision until she’d heard back. I know one bridesmaid didn’t even get her dress until about two weeks before the wedding and the bride and the bride’s mother were stressing about it.

      I think it would’ve been less stressful for all involved if the bride had said “We’re all going shopping on this day together” or “Pick from these dresses that I like” or “Pick whatever dress you like from this store”.

      • If you’re really sure you’ve changed your mind just be honest with them. (I’m sure you get the rest about if it’s a good enough friend… blah blah.) I had four plus two of my husbands party people were girls so I had them to consider and include as well. They were all important and I wouldn’t have taken any of them out, but I really did rely on one person in particular for the big stuff. I wrote all about her below if you want to know how much she did for me.

      • If you’re rethinking them, it’s better to tell them so now than to wait until they’ve spent a bunch of money on a dress/shower/shoes/whatever.

    • I had dress drama with my girls. I wasn’t sure about wanting the same dress for all or not, so I had some girls try on dresses and let me know what the liked. It got crazy. I finally found one dress I liked, that came in the colors I wanted (blue for the girls in the bridal party, black for the girls in the groom’s party), that would look nice on every body type in the bunch, and would be available to my girls who were spread across the country.

    • I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where we were told to get whatever dress we wanted as long as it was a certain color and a certain length. The color was really hard to find and the length was a little difficult as well. Finally the bride ended up saying we should all buy the same dress (at all of the bridesmaids’ urging). We went with a seller on Etsy that had a dress style that she really liked. Long story short we had all kinds of trouble with the seller and the dresses did not arrive on time (at all actually), so about a month before the wedding we all had to go out and find dresses again (thankfully an easier color to find this time around). I spent countless hours looking for a dress for this wedding. This all would have been avoided if we all just bought the same dress in the first place months earlier. It was SOOOOO stressful.

      • I am grateful that my friend picked out our dresses and I will do the same with my girls…but it would be good if brides can keep in mind total cost of a dress. A $350 ball gown is a bit much for your maids in most cases :).

  2. I’d definitely agree with number 1! My husband and I got married for insurance instead of getting engaged and though the less than a week from proposal to wedding had its own mental issues (see my thread in getting weddinged about it) I know that if we were engaged for a year before the wedding I’d be driving myself neurotic with cold feet. Now the ceremony/reception is less about “is-this-the-man-I’m-going-to-be-with-for-the-rest-of-my-life?!” and more about celebrating my marriage to a wonderful man with my friends and family.

  3. Totally agree with #3, #4 and #5! My husband and I each had two attendants (his sister and best friend from college, and for me, my best friends from high school and college).
    We totally rocked the google docs (had four or five going for different to-do lists) — which I HIGHLY recommend for keeping track of guests. Don’t delete that document when you’re done with it; I’ve referred to it about 8,000 times since the wedding for both wedding and non-wedding related things.
    And taking time away from the planning is critical. Have times you talk wedding stuff (for us it was all our dog walks) and times you don’t (say, dinner, or Friday nights, or whatever). We had a year, and that was great, it allowed us to ramp up the planning, and since we were doing so much DIY, to do a lot of it ourselves without feeling too stressed.
    But I’m glad we didn’t get married before our wedding, because sharing that moment with everyone who was there was important to us. As part of the ceremony, we had our parents participate in a sand ceremony, but before the ceremony started, we invited everyone present to add sand to the jar. We also had them all verbally confirm their support for the marriage during the ceremony. I just don’t think it would have been the same without that participation from those we love.

  4. Could not have said it better myself – I agree with all of these whole-heartedly.

  5. I’m pretty sure I used variations on “I don’t give a shit. No really, honey badger don’t give a shiiiiiiiit” about forty-five times the day of my wedding … including when I managed to throw iced mocha in my own face trying to catch the hat that was blowing off my head at the rehearsal. XD I learned to not try to catch a hat with a hand you have a cup in. \o/

    I also learned I can’t do everything myself … which meant my 18 year old sister and her 20 year old friend made my reception playlist. I subsequently learned that if you don’t want things like “The Real Slim Shady” and “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Bye Bye Bye” on your reception playlist, make sure you get the playlist done in time. XD

    • OMG…my sister-in-law did the same thing with her wedding playlist and it was put together by her 19 y/o sister and 14 y/o SIL. We had to dance to “We Will Rock You” and “Fergalicious” and “Can’t Touch This”…

      We are therefore enlisting the help of a very good friend who is also a DJ to put ours together 🙂

  6. My ah-ha moment came when I found Offbeat Bride. I realized that there are ppl in my life who are going to try to tell me what I *have* to do (have to have a DJ, have to wear white, have to get married in a church). But then after seeing all the different kinds of weddings and couples on OBB, I realized I don’t have to do squat except be myself… and write thank-you notes. 🙂

    • Yes, you too can be like the honeybadger, and not give a shit! When people say “but what would auntie xyz think?” or “what if you decide later that you wish you had (insert what meaningless piece of crap they are insisting on)” You can just truck right on thru, knowing that honeybadger don’t give a shit! lolol…this was a great article.

  7. Such a great write-up. We are having a long engagement due to fiance’s work schedule and I’m going to a bit crazy. Similar to Google docs, we are using Dropbox, which is free and AWESOME. You can store any kind of files in Dropbox and access them from your computer, smartphone, iPad, etc. Both our moms also have Dropbox and they can view and alter whatever files we give them permission to. My mom can also put inspiration photos she likes into the Dropbox instead of sending me like 10,000,000 emails a day. A program like Dropbox or Google Docs really is a total planning sanity-saver!

    • Mindy, I love Dropbox! I use mine for inspiration photos and keeping all the contracts/proposals in one place–which really came in handy the other day when I went to a catering tasting and they served me the wrong food! I was able to bring their last proposal up on my phone and show them what I THOUGHT I was going to eat…needless to say, we are not going to hire them.

    • We used a dropbox too… Invaluable as it wasn’t just lists we could view and add to but also all the design elements like cookie jar labels and signs!

  8. I wholeheartedly recommend #4! I’m still planning my wedding, but my fiance and I have TWO shared google docs, each with at least 10-15 tabs each. One is more “business” (budget, contact information of all vendors, etc.), and the other is more “ideas” (for every little thing we think of). It’s SO SO SO helpful!

  9. Very nice post. I pretty much did the opposite of everything on the list and had a great time anyway, so whatever gets you through it with sanity and a little sense of humor!

    My aha moment was reading the Offbeat Bride book and there was something along the lines of “Offbeat Bride is there to be your crazed cheerleader…to assure you your Hindu Circus themed wedding is a great idea because IT IS!” Totally paraphrased there but actually hearing the support of “You ideas are great!” was really an eye-opener. Up until that point I kept thinking “Well this is my idea but my mom/grandma/aunt/cousin/friend will think it’s stupid/silly/sacreligious/weird.”

    Ultimately my advice to brides (or grooms) is have faith in yourself, your partner and your ideas. Somehow you both managed to become responsible adults with rich friendships and someone to love -a big accomplishment- and you did it by being YOU.

  10. A variation on #1 – Get officially married AFTER the big day. Or never. Depends on your belief system and legal needs. Can’t officially give this advice, because our wedding hasn’t happened yet, but I think it is nice to think of this whole thing as a party for our friends and family to celebrate the commitment we’ve already made. We’ll legally make the commitment whenever we get around to it. If we feel like it. Whatevs.

    My ah-ha moment was realizing that other people’s comfort needs to be a major consideration. Once I stopped planning the party that would make ME happy and started planning the party that everyone would enjoy, I was paradoxically happier.

    Google Docs are your friend!

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